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Thursday, 23 May 2013 19:45

New York Public Library to Exhibit Original Copy of the Bill of Rights

One of fourteen original copies of the Bill of Rights. One of fourteen original copies of the Bill of Rights. The New York Public Library

The New York Public Library announced that it will put its original copy of the Bill of Rights on public display for the first time in decades. The document, which has been in the library’s collection since 1896, will go on view during the fall of 2014, commemorating the 225th anniversary of the document being drafted and proposed by Congress. The Bill of Rights will go on display alternately at the New York Public Library and in Pennsylvania at the National Constitution Center.

The document was previously unable to be displayed for extensive periods of time due to preservation issues. A special case, which was constructed by the National Institute for Standards and Technology, will ensure the document’s safety while it travels. The state-of-the-art preservation device, which cost an estimated $600,000 to create, was made possible by a generous gift from Ed Wachenheim III, a Trustee of the Library, and his wife, Sue.

The document is one of at least 14 original copies of the Bill of Rights, which was sent by the First Congress of the United States to the 13 colonies, 11 of which had already become states, and to the Federal government in 1789. Four of the states, including New York and Pennsylvania, no longer have their copies of the Bill.

Beginning in 2014, the document will be displayed alternately by the Library and the Constitution Center equally for the first six year. After that, the Library will display the document 60% of the time.

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